An interesting effect came into my temporary possession – it’s an effect unit I once recommended to a colleague singer of mine when she was searching for something that would satisfy her musical needs. I remember spending a couple of hours searching for something that would have a wide harmonic function and a couple of other effects for added interest, while not losing a single bit of the quality. I already had three TC-Helicon effect units myself, so I decided to recommend to Julia something made by them. (By the way, check her out on the web, she’s amazing, so if you live in Ireland or lucky enough to be in Riga at the same time with her, you definitely should visit one of her shows.) Here’s a short video, sung using a part of a new tune of mine, just to demonstrate some of Harmony G’s functions. I tried using as many effects as possible, and still make the tune beautiful as well.
So, the Harmony G-XT!
In overview, it is small and portable, has a pretty wide harmonic range function, not bad FX options and is not complicated to operate. Now, everything on the effect you can look up at TC-Helicon official web page, but I want to give my personal opinion – what is awesome and what is less awesome. So let’s take it step by step!
Picture taken from TC-Helicon official web page.
Instrument input: by default it is written that it’s made for guitar, but another harmonic instrument can be plugged in – like a piano. The most important thing for the instrument is to give clear harmony – the chord should have the root note at the bottom (inversions could give the wrong information for the harmony and the voices you add with the help of Harmony G-XT could sound not so harmonious. Also altered chords do not really work, so you should be careful where and which voices you want to add. In my opinion – if you use it in live performances, it is better to plug it into a synthesizer that plays clear pads.
Input: one thing I find very useful (and I suppose all TC’s have it in close reach) is input control – basically you can adjust your own volume in case you have an overload or if you don’t hear yourself. I also use it when I turn on the effect unit for the first time in an unfamiliar environment – you can never know how the speakers or the monitors will react to certain effects, so I usually fade in :)
Tone: well, this one is tricky. It has two modes – the first one, the default, is a simple EQ that is meant to make your voice sound smoother. It monitors your voice and while you are not singing, it deactivates the harmony so that the effect wouldn’t start harmonising foreign noises. The second mode I don’t like – chromatic pitch correction. Well, I suppose if a singer is a professional one, they should never use it because it is unprofessional, unless you use it like Cher, as an effect. There are also no guarantees that it will adjust your tone to the right direction.
FX: well, this one I found quite fascinating. There are 6 types of voice FX – Hall, Room, Echo, Slap, Combi and SFX. It seemed quite simple if you don’t check the manual – 6 effects that can be adjusted with the FX knob. But in fact each of those has 3 more options hidden somewhere deep inside. By pressing and holding the FX button you can easily navigate through the different type. These effects are so different, that the choice could satisfy anyone’s taste. The only thing I found missing was – tap tempo, which controls the regularity of echo (if you remember my previous post, tap tempo was the main reason I started exploring effect units in the first place).
Harmony: the harmonic function is very rich. You can choose between adding one or two voices, and also easily navigate through the intervals it provides (which are 6), you can combine both the high and low harmonies, you can choose octaves and etc. One trouble I find with this function – if your harmony is altered, it can sound flat.
Presets: The effect unit has 5 ready-to-go presets, each with two variations – the FX used, harmony chosen, etc. Besides the ready-to-go presets, you can also program a setting. If for example you like how Echo+Low sounds, you can save it in option A, and Echo+Low+High in B and easily navigate through by pressing the buttons A and B.
Now, all in all the effect unit is awesome and I enjoyed the time I spent with it. Though except for the lack of tap tempo there is another thing which I found less convenient – setting your own harmony. Let’s suppose that you are performing solo and you don’t have any instrument, that could give you the harmony, so you have to set the harmony yourself. At first I couldn’t find how to do it, though after a long search (this function is hidden very deep), and with the help of the manual, I discovered that you have to press two buttons simultaneously and then chose the key and a function – major, minor, etc. But I found it difficult to access, especially if you have to change the key for every tune at a gig, or, OMG, – in the middle of the tune.
So, in conclusion – it is an awesome effect which can be easily modified according to your needs, and except for a couple of missing functions, it can be easily used in almost every situation.
I hope this post can be useful to someone!